Are you wondering why your iPhone says “No Service” instead of showing network connection bars and your network carrier’s name at the top-right corner of your screen? The reason behind this inconvenience could be one or more things.
We’ve rounded up the most common reasons why you may see no service on iPhone to help you understand why it occurs and how to get your cellular service back.
What Does “No Service” on iPhone Mean?
When your iPhone has no service, it means it’s not connected to a mobile network. When your device isn’t connected to a mobile network, you can’t receive carrier text and calls from anyone, and you can’t use cellular data (3G, 4G, 5G, etc.).
If you’re wondering if you can still use the Internet when your iPhone says “No Service,” you can. Your iPhone can still connect to Wi-Fi networks in range so that you can send messages and call people on messaging services like WhatsApp because they work over Wi-Fi.
Good to know: looking for a way to troubleshoot not having service on your Apple Watch? It may be because your Apple Watch is not connecting or pairing to your iPhone.
From lack of coverage to faulty hardware, the following are the common reasons for “No Service” on your iPhone:
1. No Network Coverage
The number one reason why your iPhone can’t connect to your mobile network carrier (AT&T, Orange, Vodafone, etc.) is that your carrier has little to no coverage in your area. If you only get the “No Service” status on your iPhone when you go to some places and not 100 percent of the time, that means your network doesn’t cover those areas or only covers them partially.
There’s no workaround for lack of network coverage. However, you can check your carrier’s coverage areas to see if you are affected. Most of them have coverage maps on their websites that show which areas they cover.
To help you out, these are the coverage maps for the major carriers in the US:
If your destination isn’t covered well, you should bring an extra SIM card from another network that covers your destination better. You can also bring a personal hotspot connected to a stable carrier in your destination if your iPhone isn’t unlocked, or you don’t want to switch SIM cards temporarily.
2. Network Outages
If you’re in a well-covered area, the reason for “No Service” on your iPhone could point to a mobile network outage. Maintenance and natural disasters usually cause network outages. Most of the time, your mobile network carrier will let you know days ahead if there’s an upcoming maintenance activity that’ll disable some or all of your carrier’s services for a specified period.
Helpful hint: experiencing problems trying to access Internet-based services? A carrier network issue or a server outage on Apple’s end could cause services such as Apple Pay to stop working.
3. Outdated Carrier Settings
Another reason for “No Service” on your iPhone is outdated carrier settings. Your iPhone’s carrier settings are updated by your network carrier regularly to improve cellular network connectivity and performance. They’re pushed out by your carrier with error or bug fixes, and support for new network features on your iPhone.
Whenever a new carrier settings update is available, your iPhone will automatically install it or notify you about an update you need to install. Checking and updating your carrier settings takes only a few seconds, and there are usually no restarts required.
4. Inactive Data Roaming
If you’re out of your mobile network carrier’s country, you’ll most likely get a “No Service” network status on your iPhone, as your carrier doesn’t have support outside the country where your subscription is based.
Since you still need to stay connected abroad, you need to enable data roaming on your iPhone’s cellular settings. With data roaming on, your iPhone will connect to your carrier’s partner network in your location. You’ll be able to receive carrier text messages and calls and use cellular data. This is important, especially if you don’t have an unlocked iPhone and can’t use another SIM card.
Keep in mind that data roaming incurs additional costs on top of your monthly carrier bill. Here’s an in-depth explanation of what data roaming is.
5. Faulty SIM Card
A faulty SIM card can prevent you from connecting to that SIM card provider’s network. It could be that the SIM card you received has a manufacturer defect, damaged during unpacking and insertion, or your iPhone is carrier-locked and you’re trying to use another network’s SIM card.
If you’re sure about compatibility, the first troubleshooting you should do is reinsert the SIM card and make sure you do it correctly. If it still doesn’t work after numerous attempts at insertion, you should contact your network provider for a replacement.
However, if you’re only using an eSIM, the reason for your iPhone having no service is unlikely to be a faulty SIM card.
Tip: having trouble trying to transfer and activate eSIM on your iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro? Follow our guide to find out how to generate an eSIM QR transfer code, and learn when it may necessary to contact your carrier directly.
6. Inactive Network Carrier Account
An inactive mobile network carrier account is also a reason for “No Service” on an iPhone. When your account is inactive, you won’t be able to use your subscription’s services, like texting, calling, and cellular data. In some cases, an inactive carrier account may also prevent your iPhone from connecting to the carrier network.
The best way around this is to contact your carrier to ensure your account is active and that they haven’t deactivated your account due to reasons like missing payments.
7. Faulty Hardware
After exhausting all possible fixes to the “No Service” network status and reaching out to your carrier and Apple, it’s time to consider that your SIM tray or other components responsible for connecting your iPhone to mobile networks might be faulty.
If this is the case, you should direct your concern to Apple. They provide iPhone repairs for units in and out of warranty, with prices varying based on the iPhone model, issue, and whether you have an AppleCare+ subscription.
Tip: before you take your iPhone in for repair, it is always a good idea to perform a hard reset, which may resolve any cellular connectivity issues that you are experiencing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use Wi-Fi even if my iPhone has "No Service"?
Yes. The “No Service” status only applies to your cellular network. You can connect to any Wi-Fi network in range, even if you’re not connected to a mobile network.
How do I check whether my iPhone is unlocked?
Go to “Settings -> General -> About.” If you see “No SIM restrictions” next to “Carrier Lock,” your iPhone is unlocked, and you’re free to use any mobile network’s SIM card or eSIM (if your iPhone supports this feature).
Can a carrier-locked iPhone be unlocked?
Yes. However, only the carrier can unlock your iPhone. You can reach out to them to request an unlock. Check out Apple’s support page on unlocking your iPhone.
Once your iPhone is unlocked, you can get a prepaid or postpaid plan from the carrier of your choice and use SIM cards and eSIMs in other countries, which eliminates the need to enable data roaming that costs more.
Image credit: Wheres the network when you need it by YayImages. All screenshots by Natalie dela Vega.
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